September 11, 2008
My friend, Shari Harley, wrote a beautiful article commemorating September 11th. For her it is very personal since she worked in the Twin Towers at that time, but was not in the office that day.
She asks some very thought provoking questions:
- How is the world different because I lived on September 11th when others died?
- What have I done in the last 12 months to make the world smaller and to build community each time I get on a plane, walk in a store, meet someone new and have a conversation?
- Where have I played small…said yes when I meant no…said no when I wanted to say yes…or didn’t say anything at all?
I encourage you, as she does, to think about the contribution you are making to the world. Her article has reaffirmed my theme for the rest of this year: “significance.”
August 20, 2008
In a previous blog entry, I wrote about my “30 day challenge.” The purpose of that was to disconnect you from email. Well, today I have a new – yet shorter – challenge. It only takes 90 minutes.
I live near the ocean, and when I am home (which is not often), I like to walk the length of the beach every other day. Normally during this 5 mile walk I would have my BlackBerry and my iPod. Since taking the 30 day challenge, I have been leaving the phone at home and only bring along my music. The music is a nice distraction.
Today I decided to disconnect totally. I walked the 90 minutes without phone, email or music.
Instead, I focused my mental energies on an important question: How can I make my life – and my work – more significant? Check out my “quought of the day” for more background on this question.
For an hour and a half, I tried to only think about significance. At first, my mind wandered onto other topics. Although I don’t meditate, I am told that this meandering mind syndrome is common in those who do. Eventually my mind settled down and I started to get clarity on the topic at hand.
August 20, 2008
As many of you know, I was recently on “The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch.” Here is the video of my (very) brief appearance. If I were given more time, I would have discussed these 7 tips for keeping your job. Fortunately, CNBC decided to post these tips on their website along with another article of mine.
Press the “play” button and wait a few seconds for the video to start.
August 18, 2008
My friend, Rajesh Setty, has been collecting “Quoughts. He describes these as questions that provoke thought. In particular, he wants to know, what is one question that you wish someone had asked you when you were young…and why?
My response will be posted on his site soon – along with his commentary. But I thought I would share my response with my readers first.
My Quought is:
“What matters most?”
Why did I choose this quought? There are two reasons:
- Einstein once said, “If I were given one hour to save the planet, I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem and one minute resolving it.” From my personal experience, most people (and organizations) spend 60 minutes finding solutions to problems that don’t matter. So relevance is one aspect of “what matters most.”
- Recently, I have been asking myself, “Is what I do significant?” I know my work changes organizations. And I like to believe that it also changes lives. But is the change significant? Lately I have been restless. I think the reason is that I want greater significance in my life.
The second point, significance, is something I am wrestling with right now. In fact, I have decided that this will be my theme for the rest of this year. As we move into the last third of the year, maybe it is time for you to revisit your theme. If you are not familiar with my concept of themes, please read my article on the topic.
Maybe it is time to ask yourself, “What matters most?” What matters most to your organization? What matters most in your personal life? What matters most to your family? When you focus on the things that matter most, you have more time. And you can spend that free time on more things that matter.
July 30, 2008
While in Asia, I heard a great expression, “Before You Can Multiply, You Must First Learn to Divide.” I now find myself using this saying nearly every day.
The idea is that if you want to grow your business, you must learn to partner with others – and give them a slice. This means you take a smaller slice of a bigger pie.
I have been doing this for a while now with my agent. He takes a percentage of my business in exchange for handling everything from negotiating, contracting, logistics, travel, invoicing, etc. I am convinced I make more money through this arrangement…and work less.
I recently had a conversation with a guy who runs a seminar business. When big name American speakers come to his country, he hosts a public seminar. His biggest challenge is getting butts in seats. When I looked at his business model, it was flawed. He has a lot of fixed costs, like advertising, printing (brochures) and postage. His customer acquisition cost is ridiculously high, and was often hit or miss. He could spend $5,000 on a newspaper advertisement and get only three customers paying $300 each. Even with 50 paying customers, he is still paying a 33% customer acquisition cost – assuming no discounts. My suggestion was to create a model where others make money only when he makes money. One example is to set up an affiliate program where he gives a large commission to people who get him paying customers. This moves his costs from fixed to variable. This removes his risk while encouraging others to take a vested interest in his success.
Yesterday I was at a board meeting for my local National Speakers Association chapter (I was the President last year and am still on the board). Over the last two years we spent a lot of time and money on something we call the “Visibility Initiative.” The idea was to get visibility for our members in order to help them get more gigs. We spent thousands on website development and marketing. If we use the “divide before multiply” concept, it would make more sense to get someone to do all of these activities for us. Speakers bureaus sell speakers to event planners. They already have the connections and already have websites. This is their business. Therefore, if we partner with a bureau (or two), they get their commission for every gig booked and we get greater results with less effort.
When I was on the Donny Deutsch show, a caller asked, “I am the owner of a business. How do I retain my top talent?” Donny asked what percentage of the business he owned. The caller said 100%. Donny’s response was (paraphrasing), “Wrong. As of today you own 80%. Go into the office of your top 10 people and tell them that they are now partners in the business. Give them 2% each. They will have a greater sense of ownership. Besides, this is probably the amount you would have given them as a bonus anyway.”
Where can you multiply by first dividing? Where can you give a slice of your business to someone else? How can you grow your business while creating more income for others?